The thriving metropolis of Atlanta, Georgia has more than enough things to keep you hopping and provides fabulous entertainment choices and conveniences of city life. Get ready for busy attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, and must-see places like Atlanta museums and even shopping malls. But sometimes, you just want to get out of the city and explore the area outside downtown Atlanta.
Georgia shares a border with Alabama, Florida, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee making it easy to take a day trip or overnight visit to border states. There are also plenty of activities and towns to explore in Georgia for those not wanting to take a very long trip. Several tour companies offer Atlanta day trips or you can strike out on your own.
Whether you want to check out the Etowah Indian Mounds, do some whitewater rafting, try mountain biking, or hike along the Appalachian trail, there is a day trip from Atlanta with your name on it.
Day trips from Atlanta are the ideal addition to a holiday, especially for those looking to see some of the national parks. Getting to know the small rural southern towns can make some of the best day trips from Atlanta. Before you head out for the day, store your bags safely with luggage storage in Atlanta. Don't bring along more than you need!
How to get out of Atlanta
While some cities in the United States are equipped with fantastic public transportation options, Atlanta is somewhat lacking in this area in regards to heading out of the city for a day trip. The best way to get to many places away from Atlanta is by car. Learning how to get around Atlanta is important so you can be self-sufficient while planning day trips from Atlanta.
Bus services do run and will take you to places such as the Blue Ridge Mountains, Stone Mountain Park, and Rock City Gardens. But if you want to visit the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Cloudland Canyon State Park, or the Chattahoochee National Forest, it is best to drive there yourself. You will get there quicker and have the freedom to leave when you want to without waiting on the bus.
From Atlanta to Dahlonega, North Georgia's Wine Country
The foothills of the Appalachian Mountains lie just to the north of Atlanta and have become quite the respectable area for producing quality wines, especially around Dahlonega. With over a dozen wineries in the area and so many amazing mountain views, you just can’t go wrong.
While wine tastings in North Georgia wine country are not a family outing, you can gather your friends or your significant other and have an enjoyable outing listening to live music and relaxing on patios looking out over the mountains.
While here, explore Downtown Courthouse Square with its gourmet tapas bars, wine-tasting rooms, adorable shops, and comfortable eateries oozing country charm. You can also head out and tour some of the vineyards and sample some of their best vintages in their on-site tasting rooms including Frogtown Cellars, Three Sisters, and Wolf Mountain Vineyards.
How to get to Dahlonega
Dahlonega is in the heart of north Georgia wine country and is a two-hour drive from Atlanta. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) does have trains that stop at the North Springs station and then you can order a cab or call an Uber to get you to Dahlonega.
From Atlanta to Callaway Gardens
Head to Pine Mountain, Georgia to check out the Callaway Resort Gardens which covers 2,500 acres of prime, breathtaking Georgian real estate. Bring the whole family for a day of fun while appreciating all that Mother Nature has showcased at Callaway Gardens.
Kids will love the hiking trails and biking trails or zip-lining through the trees. You can even relax on the sandy beach along the shores of Robin Lake. Water sports are also available on the lake. Avid golfers will want to check out the world-class course.
Visit the Day Butterfly Center, a conservatory home to more than 1,000 butterflies. Stop in and watch one of the birds of prey shows and learn more about these majestic hunters. Adults and children will find the vibrant and well-maintained gardens mesmerizing.
Visit during the holidays to check out the Fantasy in Lights display, one of the biggest in the world. They also host the Hot Air Balloon Festival each September as well as the annual July 4th Star Spangled Beach Party. There always seems to be something fun and exciting happening at the beautiful Callaway Gardens.
How to get to Callaway Gardens
Callaway Gardens is located in Pine Mountain on US-27. It is about 85 miles to the southwest of Atlanta and will take just under an hour and a half to drive.
From Atlanta to Macon
The number of people who flock to Macon for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival is truly amazing. The festival lasts for two weeks each spring and the town turns everything pink, it kind of looks like a cupcake tossing its cookies, there is that much pink. But it is an amazing festival to see in person.
Downtown Macon is full of quaint shops and wonderful restaurants along with the Amerson River Park filled with hiking trails and picnic tables. Bring a picnic and do a little people-watching or cheer on the kayakers as they paddle along the Ocmulgee River.
Stop by the Ocmulgee National Monument and then bring your bike, or rent a bike, and head down the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail. Spend some time lazing on Lake Tobesofkee, relax along the shore, or take out a kayak or boat. Head to the Big House and explore the Allman Brothers Band Museum.
Plan your visit in July during Bragg Jam, a two-day music crawl filled with live music, great street food, and craft beer tents. While here, check out the Grand Opera House and Hay House, both architecturally fascinating.
How to get to Macon
It is about 85 miles from Atlanta to Macon and takes about one hour and fifteen minutes when you take I-75 out of Atlanta.
From Atlanta to Providence Canyon State Park
Also known as Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon, Providence Canyon State Park is one of the more magnificent natural wonders of Georgia. Covering over 1,000 acres, the state park is the perfect place for the whole family to explore. There are several wonderful lookout spots to take breathtaking photos or just enjoy the natural beauty that is Providence Canyon State Park.
The park is open year-round but the best time to visit is during the fall when the trees are changing and the vibrant colors bring everything to life. The crisp autumn air makes it ideal for hiking, so fill a pack with snacks and drinks, lace up your hiking boots, and hit the trail for a few hours there are several great hiking trails.
One of the most interesting things about this national park is that there is geological evidence that the park was once located at the bottom of the sea. The canyons in the park were not created by the sea, however. They were created from the natural erosion of ditches dug by farmers. Plan a horseback riding trip while here.
You will find the gullies, 150 feet deep, fascinating with their layers of red, pink, orange, and purple sediment. If you are not up for a long hike along some of the many hiking trails, take the easier, shorter trail along the rim trail and look down to the canyon floor. Keep an eye out for local wildlife such as deer, armadillos, raccoons, and of course, colorful butterflies.
How to get to Providence Canyon State Park
It is a bit of a drive from downtown Atlanta to Providence Canyon State Park, but it is well worth the extra time in the car. Plan on the trip taking about two and a half hours by car to Lumpkin in Stewart County.
From Atlanta to Athens
This rather artsy, easygoing college town is home to one of the most popular college football teams, the University of Georgia Bulldogs. It is also home to a fabulous music scene and hopping nightlife. The restaurant culture in Athens is a mixed bag of student hangouts and upscale, posh restaurants. Athens is nicknamed The Classic City, it is a great day trip to make from Atlanta.
You may wonder what a college town has to offer when Atlanta is brimming with so much culture and vibrancy. The music scene is one of the main draws, it is the hometown of R.E.M. and the B52s. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is also a big draw for tourists.
A visit to the Georgia Museum of Art is a great way to check out the modern art scene including the beautiful sculptures in the courtyard. The collection of 1930s American realists inside is an interesting exhibit to see. It is free to visit the Georgia Museum of Art, which is the official state museum and home to over 10,000 individual pieces.
When you are in Athens be sure to make a stop at the 40 Watt Club which is one of the most iconic lounges in the city. The club’s stage once held the B52s, R.E.M., and Widespread Panic as well as several others on this thriving indie music scene.
How to get to Athens
Buses do connect Atlanta to Athens and it takes just over an hour and a half on the bus. You can also drive from Atlanta to Athens which will take about an hour and fifteen minutes heading toward northeast Georgia.
From Atlanta to Monastery of the Holy Spirit
Located about 30 miles outside Conyers, Georgia, this tranquil Trappist monk community is a thing of peace and beauty. The monastery itself is marvelous to see and you can even join the monks residing here for mass and mid-day prayers. You will feel an inner peace as you stroll through the area.
Head to the Monastic Museum and take a self-guided tour. You can even learn more about the fine art of Bonsai when you visit the Monastery Garden Center. While your kids may not find the Monastery of the Holy Spirit to be an exciting place to visit, they may like hiking along the Rockdale River trail located on the property. You can even rent a bike to explore the trail.
After you have visited the monastery, check out the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area which is only a few miles away. It is filled with hiking trails, multi-use trails, and historic sites, as well as panoramic views of downtown Atlanta.
How to get to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit
Located at 2625 GA-212, Conyers, GA, it is about a 30-minute drive from Atlanta when you take I-20 to 212-E. You can also take a public bus which will take about an hour to get to the Monastery.
From Atlanta to Chattanooga
It is hard to believe that Chattanooga, Tennessee is less than two hours from Atlanta. You can explore so many amazing places and check out all the museums along the waterfront. The waterfront of Chattanooga was once the industrial center of the city but has since been revitalized and turned into the Tennessee Riverwalk trail. You can meander down the trail on foot or rent a bike for a faster tour.
Sign up for one of the historic downtown Segway tours, these last about two hours and include several points of interest such as Warehouse Row, the Tivoli Theatre, the Tennessee Aquarium, and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
After visiting the Tennessee Aquarium, with one of the biggest collections of freshwater animals in the United States, visit the Hunter Museum of Art in the Bluff View Art District, which is just down the street. The Hunter Museum of Art is home to works by Andy Warhol, Winslow Homer, and Mary Cassatt.
Downtown Chattanooga is extremely walkable and filled with brick and stone buildings with historic ties. Drop by some of the craft breweries and distilleries or pull up a chair and dine at one of the gourmet kitchens. Stroll through the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park. Then grab a drink at the Flying Squirrel, a trendy bar that you will fall in love with.
How to get to Chattanooga
You can hop in your car and be in Chattanooga from Atlanta within two hours straight down I-75 or you can catch the 5:45 a.m. Megabus and get there in three and a half hours.
Day Trips from Atlanta
The possibilities are endless when it comes to day trips from Atlanta. Whether you head to the Great Wolf Lodge, the Chattahoochee Oconee National Forest, Chickamauga Civil War Battlefield, Unicoi State Park, or Springer Mountain State Park, you will find plenty to keep you busy.
Visit a petting zoo, a country music hall, or a historical pioneer log cabin, or learn about the gold rush. You can check out performing arts centers, explore a historic town, hike up Stone Mountain, or float down the Chattahoochee River. Historical buildings and amazing museums await you during your trips from Atlanta.